For­mer Is­raeli Pres­i­dent Kat­sav con­victed of rape

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

JERUSALEM: An Is­raeli court on Thurs­day con­victed for­mer Pres­i­dent Moshe Kat­sav of rape, in the most se­ri­ous charges ever to be lev­eled against a high-rank­ing Is­raeli of­fi­cial.

The con­vic­tion on two counts of rape of a for­mer em­ployee means the 65-yearold Kat­sav will face a min­i­mum of four years in prison. The Tel Aviv District Court also con­victed him on lesser counts of in­de­cent acts and sex­ual ha­rass­ment in­volv­ing two other women that worked for him. The court com­pletely re­jected Kat­sav's de­nials.

The ver­dict caps a fourand-a-half year saga that shocked the nation. The com­plaints were filed by four women who worked for Kat­sav in the 1990s when he was tourism min­is­ter. He was found guilty of rap­ing an em­ployee in 1998, two years be­fore he was elected pres­i­dent.

Al­though the post in Is­rael is largely cer­e­mo­nial, the pres­i­dent is head of state, rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try at cer­e­monies around the world.

Kat­sav re­signed in 2007, two weeks be­fore his sev­enyear term ex­pired, un­der a plea bar­gain that would have re­quired him to ad­mit to lesser charges of sex­ual mis­con­duct. He was re­placed by elder states­man and No­bel peace lau­re­ate Shi­mon Peres.

But in a dra­matic re­ver­sal in April 2009, Kat­sav re­jected the deal and said he wanted to clear his name in court. Kat­sav con­tends he is in­no­cent and a vic­tim of a po­lit­i­cal witch hunt, im­ply­ing he was a tar­get be­cause he rep­re­sents Jews of Mid­dle East­ern ori­gin. For decades, Mid­dle East­ern, or Sephardic Jews, were an un­der­class in Is­raeli so­ci­ety. Kat­sav was born in Iran and im­mi­grated to Is­rael as a child. -Ap

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